For thousands of years, people have shared this beautiful region of Arizona with wildlife – and for good reason. The Verde River and its tributaries give life to birds and many other wildlife and plant species.
The geographic area is small enough that you can base your trip in any of the cities mentioned below.
Day 1: Tour ancient ruins and hike through sacred Native American lands.
Start your trip at the stunning red rocks of Sedona, just two hours north of Phoenix. Today, visit Honanki and Palatki - large and beautiful ancient ruins with impressive displays of rock art.
This afternoon, head out on the scenic Boynton Canyon Trail for a two-hour hike through the sacred Native American land. Next, enjoy a Jeep tour on the back roads of this beautiful Red Rock Country. Be sure to include time to enjoy the sunset at Airport Road Overlook - and don't forget your camera!
Enjoy dinner at one of the many area restaurants and overnight at one of Sedona's bed & breakfasts or luxury resorts.
Day 2: Shop Sedona’s Tlaquepaque, then take a ride on the Verde Canyon Railroad.
In the morning, visit Sedona's local shops and galleries for Native American jewelry, pottery, crafts, rugs and gifts. Enjoy lunch at one of the restaurants – the view of Boynton Canyon alone is worth the visit.
Drive to Clarkdale (:30) where you will find the Verde Canyon Railroad train depot. In the afternoon, embark upon the four-hour train ride past Native American ruins and historic sites, watching for bald eagles, herons and other wildlife along the way. Afterward, drive a short distance to Blazin' M Ranch for a cowboy supper and entertainment. Overnight in Cottonwood.
Day 3: Discover ancient ruins at Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot National Monument.
Head over to Montezuma Castle (:20) to view this five-story, 20-room "castle," which stands in a cliff recess 100 feet above the valley floor. Nearby is Montezuma Well, where you can climb down into the sinkhole (not the water) and see the caves and the outlet of the springs.
Travel back to Cottonwood and visit Tuzigoot National Monument, an entire village centered on a pueblo that is two stories high and was built on a hill 120 feet above the Verde River.
In the afternoon, take a one-hour horseback ride or try your luck at Cliff Castle Casino on the Yavapai-Apache Nation. Enjoy dinner at the casino. Overnight in Camp Verde.
Day 4: Travel to Prescott for boating, fishing and historic fun.
Take a leisurely drive south on Historic Highway 89A over Mingus Mountain to Prescott Valley (:45). This beautiful road is visually and physically enclosed by the vegetation and canyon walls. Stop at one of the many breathtaking overlooks.
Arrive in Prescott and spend time at one of the area lakes: Goldwater, Lynx, Watson, Willow Springs or Granite Basin. Fish, kayak or canoe – or, like the miners who built Prescott, Arizona's original state capital – spend time panning for gold in Lynx Creek. Dine at one of the many restaurants and microbreweries in historic downtown Prescott. Spend the evening saloon-hopping on Whiskey Row. Overnight in Prescott.
Day 5: Go from Victorian homes to the futuristic city of Arcosanti.
Take the walking tour of Victorian homes and visit the Smoki Museum to explore Native American history, then move on to the Phippen Museum for one of the state's best displays of Western art. Or, if museums and history aren't what you're after, you can play a leisurely round of golf on any of five public courses.
Drive east to Cordes Junction (:40) and visit architect Paolo Soleri's futuristic city, Arcosanti. Afterward, head back to Sedona or the Verde Valley. If you're making your way down to the Greater Phoenix area, be sure to stop at the Rock Springs Café in Black Canyon City and try the pie – we guarantee you'll buy one to take with you.
Note: Estimated travel time is indicated in parentheses.